A buried skeleton was found in Italy. Specialists cannot tell the gender, but they estimate that it is a 10 years old child from the 5th century CE. The cause of death is proofed by the DNA to be the epidemic of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, that was common in that region. The known child was found in the ground of the Cemetery of Babies, or La Necropoli dei Bamini, in Lugano, Italy.
The corpse was buried with a big rock in its mouth that had tooth marks on it. This ritual is known as ‘vampire burial’.
‘Locally, they’re calling it the ‘Vampire of Lugnano.”archaeologist David Soren of the University of Arizona reported.
This Roman villa has been abandoned in the 1st century, so researchers started digging since 1998 and until now 10 years old and 3 year old children were found.
Soren reported in 1996 that in the cemetery many evidences pointed to a use of apotropaic ritual. There has been found many bones from at least 12 dogs, with heads of mandibles missing. The age of the dogs was less than six months old, only one was one year old.
‘Since puppies held a prominent place in Roman folk practices, it is likely that these puppies lost their body parts as the result of ritual practices. ‘
A 3 years old girl was found buried with large rocks on her hand and feet, this ritual in practiced in some cultures to ‘keep the dead from rising’.
‘Anytime you can look at burials, they’re significant because they provide a window into ancient minds. ‘ bioarcheologist Jordan Wilson of the University of Arizona.
The 10 years old unknown gender is the oldest since now and proofs that the cemetery and the rituals were far more that was researchers know.
‘Given the age of this child and its unique deposition, with the stone placed within his or her mouth, it represents, at the moment, an anomaly within an already abnormal cemetery, ‘ said archaeologist David Pickel of Stanford University.
Signs of ‘vampire burials’ such as rocks in the mouth or over the throat, with or without a stake into the torso have been discovered in Italy and Poland as well.
The excavations at Lugnano have been canceled for the moment but the archaeologists will come back next year for further digging and researching.
‘We have a saying in bioarchaeology: ‘The dead don’t bury themselves.’ We can tell a lot about people’s beliefs and hopes and by the way they treat the dead. ‘ bioarcheologist Jordan Wilson of the University of Arizona.